Last week I went over the Silver-Age history of the Secret Six, DC’s version of Mission: Impossible, about a team of clandestine operatives that undertakes missions to overthrow foreign dictators and untouchable crime bosses. In a novel twist, each member of the Secret Six is compelled to serve on the team under the threat of blackmail by the mysterious, hooded figure…Continue
DC Comics’ answer to television’s Mission: Impossible had a most novel debut. The cover of the first issue of The Secret Six (Apr.-May, 1968) served as the first three panels of the story inside. As the cover blurb put it, “you’ve already started the first memorable mission of . . . the Secret Six!”
As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, 1968…Continue
In the mid-1960’s, an infatuation with spies gripped the American viewing public, birthed from the phenomenal popularity of Sean Connery’s series of James Bond films. The “spy craze” wasn’t fated to last long---two years tops---but during that time, it left an indelible mark on fiction of all types.
Hoping to leech off the Bond fan base, low-budget producers…Continue
A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty “Hi-Yo, Silver!” . . . .
. . . the…Continue
A month ago, I posted a Silver-Age quiz on DC comics. From the activity on comics-based trivia thread and my own Comic-Book Jeopardy! threads that we had back on the old site, I expected to see more participation. A lot of you fellows are pretty sharp and, as a whole, almost impossible to stump. But only Luke Blanchard chimed in with a…Continue
Now, most of us think that about our spouses at one time or another, or perhaps, much of the time. But recently, I was witness to a awe-inspiring example of my wife’s…
I haven't done one of my trivia quizzes in a long time, and never here in my Deck Log column. For one thing, the development and expanse of search engines has made it difficult to find truly challenging questions. Oh, one can format a question to make it virtually Google-proof, something like "What do 'X' and 'Y' and 'Z' have in common?" But…Continue
This year, my usual Thanksgiving story got overcome by events. Sorry, folks. But instead of just running a giant picture of a turkey and being done with it, I decided to turn over the space to another writer’s work. The good news is that he is a better writer than I am.…Continue
If someone---me, for example---ever decided to make the Silver-Age Iron Man series into a romantic comedy, that would be the title: The Happy Pursuit of Pepper, starring Jack Carson and Shirley Patterson, with James Craig as “Tony Stark”.
Of course, the original screenplay---Tales of Suspense # 45-91---would need a re-write. All that super-hero and super-villain business clutters up the story, so most of it would get the axe. The…
Some folks just can’t let go of a grudge.
Most of the applicants rejected for membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes returned to their hum drum,…Continue
Few things are more painful to hear than to be told “We don’t want you!” Yet, for the vast majority of eager young hopefuls seeking membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes, “rejected” was the response.
These discards found their dreams dashed against the rocks. And it didn’t help matters that, even towards the candidates who applied in good faith, the Legionnaires were…
To qualify for membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes, a candidate must be under the age of 18; must have at least one genuine super-power, which he or she can fully control; and must be courageous and of good character.
This was the first clause of the Legion Constitution, the one which stipulated the criteria for joining the super-hero club. Straightforward, short, and easy to understand. Nevertheless, lots of folks who…
If you were a thirtieth-century teenager applying for membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes, you had no trouble getting to the front door. Ah, but getting your foot in the door was another matter entirely.
The Legion of Super-Heroes debuted in Adventure Comics # 247 (Apr., 1958), when the three charter members of the group---Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl---time-travelled back to the 1930’s to…
Having become known as something of a Silver-Age expert, I occasionally receive questions on the subject in my e-mail. Sometimes these e-mails raise a topic of interest that is worth mentioning in my Deck Log, such as this one from a total stranger . . . .
Dear Commander Benson,
It goes without saying that you write the cleverest, wittiest, most fascinating column on…
While having Murray Boltinoff and Bruno Premiani appear in the pages of The Doom Patrol # 121 came as a bit of a surprise, their announcement that the title was on the ropes probably wasn’t a shocker. At least not for the veteran fans of “the World’s Strangest Heroes”. They had sensed it coming.
Like so many DC series in 1968, The Doom Patrol had moved away from many of the elements which had characterised it in the…
A veteran fan reading the banner “Is This the Beginning of the End of the Doom Patrol!” on the cover of The Doom Patrol # 121 (Sep.-Oct., 1968) would have probably written it off as hype, a come-on to entice him into buying the comic.
But once he opened it to the splash page, he would have known that something genuinely unprecedented was going on. Instead of the usual action-packed scene of Our Heroes…
In the summer of 1968, DC pulled the plug on Blackhawk. Following the two remaining issues already in production, the title would be seen no more. Editor George Kashdan would be seen no more, as well. DC fired him in April.
To oversee the last two issues of Blackhawk, DC installed former Charlton Comics editor Dick Giordano. Giordano had been a Blackhawk fan since its days in Military Comics, and he decided not to let the title die…
Now we come to the part you’ve all been waiting for: the train wreck that was “the New Blackhawk Era”.
As I mentioned on the old message board, this period in the Silver-Age history of the Magnificent 7 is the easiest to critique. It’s ducks-in-a-barrel marksmanship. It’s the kind of thing that left that still leaves the fans scratching their heads and wondering---what were they thinking?
The cover of Blackhawk # 228 (Jan., 1967)…
In 1964, editor Murray Boltinoff and writer Arnold Drake pulled off a hat trick with three stories that restored a measure of drama and realism to the Blackhawks. Moreover, the Magnificent 7 had been streamlined for the modern era, now sporting less ominous-looking crimson-and-olive uniforms and flying sophisticated VTOL-equipped F-105 Thunderchiefs.
Boltinoff and Drake had jettisoned the old elements which had diluted the Black Knights’ image as gritty,…